Review: Dead Island Riptide
Dead Island: Riptide the sequel to the island based zombie smasher Dead Island has arrived, developed once again by Techland, how does this offering compare to it’s predecessor and does it manage to build on the solid footing the first title set?
The game takes place straight after the end of the first game, the surviving characters are taken to a vessel when they’re taken into custody and locked in a holding room with the new character in Riptide, John Morgan. John is a master in hand to hand combat, so get those knuckle dusters dusted off. Everything goes a bit pear shaped and the ship ends up crashing on a nearby island, the island of Palanoi. As luck would have it, this island has also been stricken with a zombie outbreak, so you’re effectively back to square one.
If you’ve got a Dead Island save game on the same platform then you can import your old character, which keeps their stats, skills etc. or you can start afresh and pick John or one of the returning four characters from the first title, Sam B, Logan Carter, Xian Mei, or Purna. Then you’re ready to get your head down and take on the zombie infected Palanoi.
Once again, melee combat is the mainstay of the game, although you do get guns a bit earlier it’s still likely that you’ll be sticking to the clubs, hammers, scythes, knifes and so on. On this side of things it’s pretty much the same as the first title, weapons degrade – although, it seems they degrade a tad slower than before – you can repair, upgrade and build weapon modifications using blueprints.
All pretty similar so far, you still have a stamina meter and that’ll still drain very quickly should you be waving a baseball bat around like a mad-man, meaning you’ll have to lead and zombies on a merry dance until it refills. Health is refilled by picking up energy drinks, snack bars or apples throughout the game, you can also store medikits which can be used should you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, these can also revive you should you be playing solo. Rage is also back and as far as I can tell it works exactly the same as before.
Riptide follows the same quest format of the first title, find someone, ask for help, they’ll respond saying they’ll only help you if you help them first, you help them, they then help you but not usually as well as you hoped, you then have to find an alternative way of doing something and so on. It’s unlikely the quests are going to lead you onto the edge of your seat but they do the job in terms of progressing the story and moving you around the map.
Of course there’s quest hubs, otherwise known as safehouses. Here you can pick up new quests from folks, access repair benches to tune your weapons, collect supplies and so on. Some people will also buy and sell items, you can buy items from top of the range weapons to modification items for your weapons. There’s also people who will hold your extra items for you, should your inventory be bulging at the sides.
As you’d probably expect, there is new stuff in here, apart from the obvious new weapons and new zombies types, the main one being the Grenadier who will throw body parts and explosives at you before exploding, lovely. The main new feature are the defence sections, every now and again you’ll be tasked to protecting your base from the incoming waves of zombie hordes. Before they attack you’ll have the opportunity to build up some fortifications to help aid your quest. You can stick up wire fences, drop explosive mines and mount gun turrets, a lot of zombies will attack you in these sections so you better make sure you’re well prepared – you’ll also have the help of some AI characters should you be playing solo.
A quick word on the co-op, when you start a new game you won’t be asked if you want to be online or not, you have to set that up before. In the options you can either play offline or have it so you’re always in a game lobby, this means either your friends or randoms can join at any time. This is a little more awkward than it needs to be but it works very well once you’re set up and running. If you’re online then you may get the occasional prompt saying someone is nearby, this basically means there’s someone on the same quest as you, a simple button press and you’ll be put in their game to help out.
It’s entirely possible that if you just start the game without checking the options that you’ll have three other players join you with no input from yourself, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. The co-op is a bit smarter this time round, it takes into account the levels of all of the players in the game and works out a happy medium, quest progress is saved for all characters as well so you can leave the lobby and carry on solo if you wish.
There’s also a new vehicle this time round, boats. As there’s a lot of water connecting the smaller islands together a boat seems the ideal way of getting around. As you’re riding the waves you can be attacked by zombies who have taken up swimming, they’ll grab the sides of the boat and you’ll have to either fight them off or use the boat’s boost to blast them off.
Graphics wise, it looks the same as the previous title, although now you’ve got weather. Every now and again it’ll start chucking it down with rain, which will hugely reduce visibility but fortunately it never lasts for too long.
As you can probably tell, Riptide is very, very similar to the previous title. There’s lots of zombies (more of them in Riptide), you smash their brains in, you complete quests, you’re on a tropical island (to begin with anyway) and it all feels very samey. If you were looking at this hoping for a complete overhaul then you’re going to be disappointed. If you adored the first title and are looking for more of the same with the bugs ironed out and a few new features then rejoice, this is the game for you.